All parents have those things that they swell with pride over. For some, its their child's game-winning touchdown. For others, its the straight-A report card. For some it is just seeing them finally overcome a difficulty.
I am no different. Maybe its lame, but I beam with so much pride when my daughter dances, that I actually cry. When my son got the lead in his 1st grade play a few years ago, I fought back tears throughout the entire show (which wasn't even the least bit sad or moving, mind you). When my son was selected as one of the very few 3rd graders to join the 4th and 5th graders for "Battle of the Books," I bragged about it for weeks. When my daughter got personal recognition from the music teacher after their winter concert, I had proud visions of her following in my musical footsteps, getting all the school solos, flashing through my head. And I feel an immense sense of pride whenever my son reaches a new milestone in his struggle with math. And on and on... But while those are all great things that my children have achieved, they aren't what I consider the things I am most proud of.
Recently, my son joined his school's community service club. We came to find out after the first meeting, that out of 29 students, he was only one of 3 boys who joined the club. After the initial fear of him being teased for wanting to join a club that required doing something as "sissy" as knitting wore off, I had a sobering realization. My son didn't care that he was knitting! He didn't care that the other boys may not see him as "macho" or "cool" because of his choice to join the club! (Of course, it doesn't hurt that his best friend, who is the 2nd biggest kid in their grade, is also in the club. You don't mess with the best friend of the biggest kid in class!) He cared that he was making a difference. See, they are knitting to make hats, blankets, and scarves for hospitals and homeless shelters to give out to those in need of warm clothing this winter. I think that is what I am most proud of my son for. He doesn't care how his choices are perceived. He doesn't care what others think. He cares about nameless, faceless people he has never met, and about making life better for them, in the form of a red and black hat knitted by a 3rd grade boy. For a 9 year old to understand that abstract concept, to be that truly altruistic, to make the conscious choice to do what is right rather than what is popular...I am truly in awe.
Then there is my 6 year old daughter. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that her daughter had come home from school and announced, "I have a best friend, mom! Her name is Joy!" Now, this may not sound very significant, but you have to understand, my friend's daughter was a micro-preemie - born at 28 weeks - who still, at age 6, has numerous lingering health and developmental issues, including autism. This little girl is very withdrawn from most of her peers (typical of autism), and isn't the easiest child to get to know. So not many of the other kids have bothered to get to know her. But my daughter has been patient, kind, loving, and caring toward this little girl, and slowly but surely, she has come out of her shell, and the girls are now best friends. My daughter doesn't care that her best friend requires more patience and understanding. She is happy with the friend she has, and accepts her just the way she is. Knowing how fragile her friend is, anytime she isn't at school, my daughter worries that she is hurt or sick, or may have to go to the hospital. She isn't afraid of these things, she doesn't feel like her friend is too "high maintenance," she just sees her as her best friend. I was always friends with the "outcasts," but I'm not going to lie. The peer pressure, not being accepted by the "cool kids" for being friends with the underdogs, got to me...and more than I'd like to admit. So honestly, I don't know if I would have taken the time to try and make friends with someone like my daughter's best friend, much less boldly proclaimed that she was my best friend. In my eyes, my daughter has guts...and the biggest heart I have ever seen! And THAT makes me swell with more pride, and shed more happy tears, than anything else.
So what makes me proudest isn't the things my children do to earn accolades in sports, dance, or academics. Its not the things they do to please themselves, my husband and I, their coaches, their teachers, or their friends. Its the things they do for others. Its the things they do that other kids don't have the heart or the guts to do. Its who they are in their heart of hearts, and how that is shown to others. Its the things they do that have nothing to do with anything they have learned from me, my husband, their coaches, teachers, or friends. Its the choices they make and the things they do in humble servanthood, love, charity, kindness, acceptance, and friendship. THAT is what makes me the proudest!